I’ll confess I was one of those people who didn’t believe in the power of having infused/flavored oils in their larder. I’ll also confess wondering what the hype was really about, having seen them across the blogosphere. Today, after one book short of owning the entire Nigella Lawson series, I’ll safely confess – I’m a believer. To commemorate this, I’m starting a new series of diaries here. Similar to The Pie Diaries, I’m starting The Larder Diaries. This shall help you (and me) to have all the essentials in your kitchen larder so you can whip up whatever you like without factoring in a shopping trip.
There isn’t much of a recipe here, just some ground rules and some math you must follow so the proportions are just right. The first step to making your own oils is to definitely get some gorgeous bottles. I did and they were worth navigating through traffic for. The second step is to do some research. I went through some books and blogs to help me decide which kind of oils would I most use, their shelf life etc. I narrowed it down to garlic infused oil and chilli oil. Starting with 1/2 a litre of each type felt right. Remember, we aren’t going to be deep frying anything in these oils – just adding it to add a little exotic to everyday.
Garlic oil and chilli oil are pretty versatile and they are used across a number of cuisines like Italian, Chinese etc and they are perfect for marination. A simple grilled chicken can be kicked up a notch just by being steeped in these oils for a while. They’re great for stir fry too. A dash of both, some peppers, some meat and a little more ginger and garlic and you’ve got yourself the perfect weeknight express dinner. Garlic oil is also wonderful while making some focaccia dough and I’ll be honest here – that was my initial plan. I wanted to make some garlic oil for making Focaccia but then (as usual) I got tempted when I researched a little. You can reduce the amount of garlic cloves depending on just how pronounced you want the flavor to be. I *love* garlic so I did it my way. Incase you think you’ve added too much, you could always mix it with some regular oil – say a tablespoon of this and 2 tablespoons of vegetable/olive oil?
I love the kick of chilli oil. It adds some sparkle to the usual and who doesn’t love a little bit of sparkle now?
Some words of caution though – do buy bottles that can withstand the heat. I didn’t and one bottle cracked. Luckily, I was able to save it and store it in another bottle before anything else happened. Secondly, while heating the oil, make sure you use a saucepan that has a spout. It will give you more control over pouring into a tiny bottle neck. Also, make sure you wear oven mitts and keep an arm’s length distance while pouring hot oil onto garlic, chilli or herbs. As the hot oil meets them, it tends to bubble up. It also has to keep for about 2 days before you can start using it.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, which has been wiped clean to ensure there are no traces of water, heat 1/2 a litre of oil till its quite hot. While its heating, add chopped garlic to the bottle.
Pour hot oil onto garlic very carefully as it tends to bubble up. Don’t close/cap it yet – let the oil cool down. Put the lid on and use after 2 days.
Slit the chillies in half and continue to heat the oil and pour as stated above.
Garlic Infused Oil
8 to 10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 litre of extra virgin Olive Oil
Chilli Infused Oil
5 – 7 Bird’s Eye Chilli, slit in half
1/2 litre of extra virgin Olive Oil
Now you may ask if its worth replicating with green chillies but where is the exotic in that?